Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why You Need to Stop Blogging & Regain Your Writing Soul

Blogging can be a great practice for writers. It forces you to write regularly and helps you discipline yourself in your craft. I’m a fan of it. Really.

But it can also be a disease — a people-pleasing addiction that saps you of your creative edge. The true writer must beware of and take caution when using this marvelous tool for one reason: Writing solely for others can cost you your (writing) soul.

Stop Blogging

3 Reasons to Stop Blogging

Here’s why blogging can sometimes hurt your writing:

1. Blogging is instant

It happens immediately. As soon as you press “publish,” your article is live for the world to see, free for people to react and respond to your content.

This is exciting, addictive even, especially when people affirm your writing. We all need positive affirmation, but because publishing a blog post is instant, it can be dangerous.

You may find yourself publishing just for the thrill of taking your content live for others to praise it. Or you may begin to believe you’re better than you actually are.

Blogs stroke our egos. If you have one, be careful.

2. Blogging is expedient

Before the days of instant gratification when you had to actually pitch a piece before someone would consider publishing it, writers took time to consider what they wrote before sending it off to an editor.

Not so anymore.

Because blogging allows you to reach your audience instantly, it’s tempting to hit publish prematurely, to jump the gun on the creative process, to not let it run its course.

Good writing takes time. And the expediency of blogging can subvert the process of getting to your best content. Again, I say, proceed with caution.

3. Blogging is easy

Anyone can do it.

Beware anything that allows you immediate pleasure and reward with little work required. Beware anything that any hack can do. (It doesn’t really set you apart, does it?)

Take the time to write something worth reading, something that your readers will appreciate, even if it doesn’t mean you blog every day. (I know, I’m sort of breaking my own rule here, but this is just that important.)

Anyone can blog. In fact, many do. But not everyone has something to say.

Be different.

What’s the solution?

Writers need to write first and foremost for themselves before worrying about building an audience or platform. This frees you to create art the world needs to hear, that the marketplace will reward, and that you’ll enjoy writing.

While writing for others isn’t necessarily bad, it can’t be primary. You must first write for yourself.

When you can do that, you may return to your blog.

Why write for yourself?

Because writing for yourself releases you from the temptation to entertain.

Writing for yourself allows you to be honest and transparent in your writing.

Writing for yourself causes you to write what you really want to write. (This is more important than you realize.)

And that leads to passionate, life-changing work.

So what do you do now?

You’ll have to take some intentional steps to break out of this addictive cycle of writing solely for an audience. You may have to stop blogging for a little while.

Here are some ideas of next steps if the ideas above resonate with you:

  • Schedule times of focused writing, while continuing to blog.
  • Take regular breaks from your blog (but keep writing). This may be a week-long “staycation” or the weekend. Whatever you do, set aside some time for longer writing that doesn’t need to be shared immediately.
  • Start a journal.
  • Reflect on content that you’ve published, asking, “How can I make this better?” Then rewrite it.
  • Ask for feedback from your true fans. See if what you’re writing seems honest to them.
  • Read more books, articles, and other long-form pieces.
  • Return to your blog, once you’ve recaptured your creative voice. You and your audience should be able to tell the difference.

What’s the point of all this?

You started this whole writing thing, because you had a passion and a voice. You had drive and something to say.

If you’re like me, you may have found yourself spending more time promoting your work than actually writing. This is bad.

If that’s you, then it’s time to refocus. On what really matters. On the art and not just the craft of writing. So that you can become a real writer, not just another poser with a blog.

You will find that the world rewards those who really care about what they’re doing and take the time to do it well.

Write for yourself. It’s worth it.

Is it time that you stopped blogging and started writing for yourself again?

Recommended Reading: Why I Shut Down My Blog [Slate]

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://mendinghope.com Hope Wilbanks

    One word. Excellent. (Three more words: Couldn’t agree more.) ;)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Hope.

  • http://www.identitales.com Esther van der Wal

    Reading this comes at an excellent time for me. I was wondering whether a writer writes primarily for their audience or if art exists for the sake of art itself (provided you could label writing and blogging as an art).

    I won’t stop blogging now, in fact I’m just building up my blog. But I’ll definitely take your advice with me.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Writing is definitely an art. I’m not taking a break from blogging, either, but I AM making time in my schedule to do more focused writing. I hope you find a way to do the same.

      • maggie

        i agree with the gratification of blogging (from blogs i’ve had in the past). i’m approaching my current blog differently. i read through your comments to see what your personal plan was:-)

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          :)

  • http://robrash.us Rob Rash

    There are times Jeff, when blogging and writing just have to take a back seat to my work and my family. I try to post once a day, but I’m okay if that doesn’t happen. It’s the act of writing I love, well that and trying to be helpful and encouraging. So I’m good with that.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Good for you.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    So true!

    I’m about to take a 1 month sabbatical from my blog. I’m super lucky because I’ve got tons of folks contributing guest posts so my blog doesn’t go cold over this month, but I’m looking forward to doing some non-blog writing in addition to a lot of editing work that I need to do for the book project that I’m heading up. 

    I’m really looking forward to this time off. I also think that taking a month away from blogging will help me get more excited about blogging again, as right now it’s feeling a bit stale.

    Good words here!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome. I’m excited for you. Guest posts are a great way to keep momentum going but give you a creative break. Writing regularly for a blog is tough!

  • http://www.ryanhaack.com Ryan Haack

    Really, really good, Jeff.  I’m gonna go blog about it.  Or at least RT it.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Oh the irony… ;)

      • http://www.ryanhaack.com Ryan Haack

        I groaned even as I wrote it.

  • http://www.eileenknowles.blogspot.com Eileen

    Great post and something that has been on my heart.  I love blogging but am already planning on taking a break from everyday once my son is back in school and I have more time to write.  Blogging disciplines me to write everyday but I feel I need to take it to the next level.  Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I feel the same way, Eileen. Moreover, blogging trains you to write in a certain way. And I’m finding that I don’t want ALL my writing to sound like a blog post.

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Yes! Massively true. Stepping away from my blog and writing just to write is so healthy. I think my soul would shrivel up and die without it. Maybe that’s a little dramatic :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Not at all. Honestly, David, I was worried that you wouldn’t agree with or like this article. I know how blogging daily has really help you with your craft. Thanks for the affirmation. I really thought about how you might perceive this when I wrote it. Appreciate the encouragement.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jennabcw Jenna Benton

    Thank you Jeff. I’m at this weird place where I’m re-evaluating everything, especially writing. This is a good word.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Jenna. I hope it causes you to push thru to create your life’s work.

  • http://glorioustrauma.com Michael Walden

    Excellent! Although I’ve only been blogging a short time, there have been moments that I simply had to walk away from the computer, pick up my pen and notebook and return to the safe haven of writing only for myself. On the flip-side, there have also been times when I have had to cancel any plans I had made for the day due to the muse knocking on my skull and saying, “Write this now. It’s importance may not be clear at this moment, just do it.” (Sometimes I think my muse is sponsored by Nike). Blogging has certainly added some wonderful, interesting and now and then frightening facets to my life. :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Interestingly, Nike was a god — a muse of sorts.

      • http://glorioustrauma.com Michael Walden

        Indeed, Goddess of Victory. That is a synchronicity I can live with ;)

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          indeed.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Currently Jeff, I try and put up a blog post daily. After reading Martyn Chamberlin’s article, The Unproductive Writer’s Guide to Success, on Michael Hyatt’s blog, I’ve been contemplating blogging less, but putting more time and effort into each post. That is the way I used to blog, and I’ve had good results from that approach. I’m going to experiment over the next few weeks and see what works best. Blogging once a day can quickly go from “I get to blog today” to “I have to blog today,” which can really take its toll on good writing.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that attitude shift, John.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    This idea of not blogging seems to be a current running through the blog stream this week. I don’t disagree with the general direction of the thought but I think that regular blogging does a couple of things for me. 1) I learn the discipline of meeting deadlines. 2) I develop a greater range in my writing (or I shrivel into drivel). I suppose the latter can be like practicing a bad golf swing (is there any other kind?). You simply ingrain a bad habit.

    Of course, I just am coming off of a forced break (ill prepared for the bad connections of overseas travel) and am ready to run with writing and posting again.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like the analogy of the bad golf swing. That’s pretty profound and insightful. I agree that in general, blogging is a good discipline.

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Moonchild11

    Thank you for this. I’ve needed “permission” to take breaks from blogging and focus on writing for publishers and starting my  book. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I took your advice before I even knew you wrote it. ;) I’m taking all of August off of blogging to focus on writing and literally discipling my children. (NOT disciplining—discipling…everyone reads that wrong, lol) :)

    And I couldn’t agree more. Absolutely great article, Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      cool

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  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Great post. I’ve been wrestling with my motives for blogging a lot lately. I don’t want to loose focus of my reason for doing what I do.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hang on to that, Dylan. It’s important.

  • Hopenaomi314

    good stuff. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks

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  • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

    “But it can also be a disease — a people-pleasing addiction that saps you of your creative edge. The true writer must beware of and take caution when using this marvelous tool for one reason: Writing solely for others can cost you your (writing) soul.” Boom.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, bro. you’ve done better than most in balancing your public persona and private life.

  • Shaenacrespo

    This is a great post. I started my quirky blog on life with God because I wanted to give the church a window into what God was teaching me. I decided since I journaled daily two of them would be live. It seems to be a good balance as long as I continue to journal daily. Without that precious time spent writing for me, the blog just felt forced. I have to admit it’s hard not to force more blogs. I constantly need to be reminded my blog is an act of faithfulness so as not to despise the days of small beginning.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Indeed. It’s a fine line between showing up to do the work and it becoming rote. We writers live lives of seeming contradiction most of the time. It’s a paradox.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      “Blogging as faithfulness.” There’s a post I’d like to read.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        ditto

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    One thing that helps me keep this tension is a simple question:

    Where else am I writing?

    My blog is (hopefully) a place to test out new ideas and build a community around topics I’m passionate about. But as I writer, my main goal is to actually get articles published in online magazines and in print. When I focus 100% of my writing on my blog, I usually end up posting weird stuff.  To wit: http://wp.me/p1EcMh-J

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      that’s a good guiding question, Bret.

  • http://www.jeffdolan.com Jeff Dolan

    I agree. I’d much rather read one’s best work than work churned out on a schedule. If scheduling is important to build an audience, schedule out the posts before posting the first one to give yourself the time to write.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Agreed

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  • Redpinemountain

    I was doing a search today about blogging and writing and I found your article.  So much great information.  I’m struggling with this issue as well and find that the time it takes to put out a quality blog takes away from other writing pursuits.  I’m so overwhelmed by the blogging, I have no creative forces left.  I’m taking an extended break.  I shared your article on my FB page.  Thanks again.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks for sharing!

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  • http://twitter.com/HopeScribbles Elisabeth Allen

    I really like the suggestions you offer after asking “So what do you do now?” They’re incredibly helpful – not just as suggestions in themselves, but suggestions that provoke ideas and possibilities unique to each reader.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, elisabeth.

  • http://www.native4christ.com Native4Christ

    Thanks!! Can’t really say much more that that.

  • JoDee Luna

    Well written. 

  • Dhanamusil

    Very timely. I’ve been investigating the very thing lately.Here I am blogging about parenting and yoga, albeit with an edgy voice most often, which sometimes gets me in trouble. yet my manuscript lies ignored.
    I suppose the book is harder to write, and I tell myself it’s okay, I’m still writing, even if it’s only blogging.Tell you what, tomorrow morning, when little one is in preschool, I will work on my manuscript only.Blogging can be done later.Thanks for writing.

  • Lia London

    Blogging is like a warm up exercise for me.  Gets the words flowing.  Gets me thinking about the writing process (especially since that’s what I’m blogging about).  Then I go do the REAL projects.  Not that I want to put out slop for my blog readers (and I certainly don’t think I do), but it is isn’t “high literature” or my most carefully crafted creativity.

  • Rem

    Thanks for that confirmation. Just a few hours ago I was thinking if I write too much for myself. The I stumbled upon your article. It just tells me that I am on the right track. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/dzfalcone Donna Falcone

    Another thought – blogging counts as “published” and I am finding that my work, which I enjoyed sharing, is now knocked out of many arenas for publication… especially CONTESTS which almost always have as a criterion “Never PUBLISHED”. UGH.  So I closed down my creative writing blog the other day, and STOPPED sharing on my poetry club’s website. I thought I was helping to get my name recognized, but what I was doing was giving away my work for free and then hoping someone would by the cow later. Why would they?   PLUS, what you say here was happening to me. I could feel it, and it was feeding my OCD tendancies LOL!  Always checking to see if someone “liked” what I wrote was distracting me from writing what I needed to write. I worked HARD to get my voice back, and now it seems overusing it has given me a bit of “cyber laryngitis”! Thanks for a great article. I will share this one!!!

  • Mithi Dey

    true….i think i should start writing from today itself

  • http://sillycooch.com Gerard

    Thank you for this! It helped me figure out why I’ve already lost the motivation to write my SECOND blog post. I’ve been worrying about my site traffic, comments, and social media presence instead of focusing on why I wanted to start a blog in the first place. I created my blog because I want to write about and share things that resonate with me. I also want to be vulnerable, make people laugh, and build a community of silly, quirky, goofy people who are just as eager for connection as I am. The minute I forget that, I’m gonna be in trouble…